NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Looking around the sports medicine lab at Mojave High School it can be tough to differentiate the athletes from the people treating them.
That's because both sides are students, in some cases they are both athlete and trainer.
"It is fun being able to help your teammates, athletes on the field and in the clinic as well," Senior Ivan Parra said.
Parra spends the end of his day in Mojave High School Sports Medicine Lab before heading out to football, wrestling or track practice.
During class time, many of his teammates come through the lab for treatments.
The head of the sports medicine programs says that not only gives students like Parra valuable hands-on experience but also provides a benefit to the student-athletes' families.
"They cannot afford to go out to a clinic. We are providing that to our students," Jeff Taormina said.
The real purpose of the lab is as part of the Career and Technical Education Program that focuses on medical assisting and sports medicine.
Each of the student-athletes has to get a waiver before being treated in the lab.
Taormina spent years treating world-class athletes in the NFL and with Cirque du Soleil before moving into the classroom.
"You are there to see when the injuries happen, you do the evaluation on the injury and from there you can do the best plan possible," Taormina said.
Taormina says the lab has been even more successful than he ever dreamed.
"I had planned for seeing about 5 student-athletes a day, now it has tripled that," Taormina said.
As he continues training, Parra is hoping to continue pursuing football and sports medicine.
That is the idea behind the CTE programs set up under the Department of Education's LifeWorks initiative.
"We are trying to look at helping students go beyond high school," Dr. Dawn Burns, Chief Strategy Officer-New Skills for Youth Education Program Supervisor said.
The goal of every program under the banner is for students to leave with college credit, an industry-recognized certificate or an apprenticeship opportunity.
Part of that is giving the students hands-on experience in those fields either through job shadowing or the labs built on school campuses.
"We say if a kid can't see it a kid can't be it. So it is absolutely important that they have these experiences at the school site. We are also looking for employers to give students work-based job experience," Burns said.
Something Parra says was instrumental in building his interest in the sports medicine field.
"I think the biggest thing is getting to use the equipment," Parra said.
But these programs can's succeed without the new breed of teachers like Taormina, who have hands-on experience in the fields the Department of Education is targeting like, healthcare, information technology, education and manufacturing.
The state even created a new form of teaching license called a Business and Industry license to help get people like Taormina in the classroom.
"We want people that know what they are talking about that can tell kids what the real jobs are and get them trained and get them out," Burns said.
One of the biggest needs for the department of education right now with these programs... Is developing the internship and job shadowing opportunities.
They've set up a section of the DOE website where businesses can learn more about those opportunities.